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St. Petersburg hires new city spokesperson and communications director

Mayor Ken Welch also promoted Doyle Walsh to interim chief of staff and Shelley Loos to community engagement.
Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Erica Riggins was appointed by Mayor Ken Welch to serve as the city of St. Petersburg's chief information officer.
Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Erica Riggins was appointed by Mayor Ken Welch to serve as the city of St. Petersburg's chief information officer. [ Spectrum Bay News 9 ]
Published Sep. 21|Updated Sep. 21

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch on Wednesday announced four new appointments to his administration following recent shakeups in his Cabinet.

Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Erica Riggins was appointed as the city’s new public information officer, and Alizza Punzalan-Randle, the St. Pete Free Clinic’s former chief development officer, was named the city’s new managing director for communications and community engagement.

A news release also announced the promotion of senior adviser Doyle Walsh to interim chief of staff, and special projects director Shelly Loos to director of stakeholder and community engagement.

“I’m incredibly excited to announce these impactful appointments to our administration,” said Welch in a statement. “Their decades of work in the community will prove invaluable as we continue our mission towards inclusive progress. Collaborating with the community and key stakeholders is imperative to ensuring transparency and accountability at all levels of this administration.”

There were no job postings or resumes submitted for the four positions, according to city clerk Chan Srinivasa.

The changes follow the abrupt resignations of former city spokesperson Janelle Irwin Taylor and Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens. Taylor quit her job earlier this month, citing a toxic workplace environment created by Owens.

Owens then resigned while under investigation, and Welch said he would eliminate the deputy mayor position in his administration.

Riggins announced her new role with the city Wednesday morning on Bay News 9, where she’s worked for nearly 20 years. She said she’ll transition into her new job over the next few weeks. She will make a salary of $150,000, about $13,000 more than her predecessor.

“I must admit I will not miss getting up at 1:30 in the morning every day to come to work. That’s been really tough,” Riggins said to viewers. “I’m looking forward to building many beautiful relationships in the great city of St. Pete.”

As interim chief of staff, Walsh will make $160,000. Walsh worked as a legislative aide to Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long before joining Welch’s campaign. Walsh reports directly to the mayor.

Before working at the St. Pete Free Clinic, Punzalan-Randle worked at Eckerd College and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. As managing director for communications and community engagement, she will make $155,000 overseeing Riggins, Loos and Nina Mahmoudi over marketing.

Loos, who worked on Welch’s transition team, spent six months as a temporary special projects director for the city. As director of stakeholder and community engagement, she’ll continue making a salary of $130,000.

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